Urban Living Still Holds Strong Pull for Renters Study Says

Urban living still appeals to high income earners, and renters living in big cities are less likely to relocate to suburbs, according to a new study from StorageCafe.

Amid a year defined by significant disruptions, the rental market saw an increase in the share of Americans relocating – 18 percent more renters changed residences in 2020 compared to 2019. Out of all the renters moving, 68 percent of people picked urban living over the suburbs

Despite the pandemic and many renters moving for reasons related to COVID-19, the “exodus towards suburban or smaller towns that many anticipated on a grand scale actually materialized for a smaller fraction of the renter cohort,” the study says.

While about 32 percent of renters who wanted to move did choose the suburbs in the last year, that number is close to pre-pandemic renter patterns.

Highlights of the report:

  • More renters moved in 2020 vs. 2019, with most upgrading to bigger homes.
  • Los Angeles saw the most renter applications in 2020, with 60 percent of the people who moved staying in the state.
  • 77 percent of the renters moving to New York City and 72 percent of those relocating to Philadelphia came from a different state.
  • Millennials make up 48 percent of renters who relocated last year, followed by members of Gen Z.
  • Only 21 percent of renters moving out of big cities relocated to suburbs.
  • Columbus, Ohio, attracted the most renters relocating from suburbs – 77 percent, and Phoenix the fewest – 23 percent.

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